Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

New Castle County to invest $2.2 million in elementary school wellness centers, soliciting bids from health systems

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware School Based Health Alliance is receiving $2.2 million from New Castle County for four elementary school wellness centers.

Silver Lake, Brookside, McCullough and Richardson Park elementary schools are the four selected for the wellness centers, which may have a soft opening before the end of the school year.

The alliance’s executive director Midge Barrett says each school will transform a classroom into a clinical area, and the money will fund the centers for two years, including staffing, equipment and renovations.

“They work with the family and the child," Barrett says. "So it certainly will help with early prevention of mental health issues, early diagnosis of mental health issues, screening for mental health concerns, and short term mental health services.”

Barrett says national data shows wellness centers keep kids in the classroom and out of the emergency room.

“The outcomes that we expect to get are improvement in health status, improvement in access to care, " she says. "Especially the kids getting more of the preventive services they need and being up to date on immunizations and screenings and, and all of that.”

She adds students with chronic illnesses are less likely to be hospitalized with a wellness center in their school.

The schools selected serve children in families living in poverty who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Since 2020, medical care in one-third of households with children has been delayed, and more than a quarter of Delaware’s children have parents who lack secure employment.

Even before the pandemic, data indicates one in six Delaware children lived in food insecure households.

Barrett says the alliance is soliciting bids for each of the centers from health systems that would run them. Each center will have a clinical practitioner/site coordinator, a mental health service provider, a nutrition consultant, and an administrative assistant.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.